The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Patching Cracks


December 19, 2018

This morning is the first time I have sat at my desk, in my office, in a little more than a week. My wife and I just got back from a vacation week in Hawaii a celebration of our 20th wedding anniversary (which was technically back in July).

Every morning while we were there, we got up early and went to the beach to exercise and watch the sunrise. One morning, while I was out running, I realized that the sunrise on the islands is pretty, but I actually think the sunrise over the Bear Paw Mountains is a bit more impressive.

Our sunrise covers more of the horizon, spreads farther into the sky, and seems to be more colorful. However, I took the time to enjoy the morning with my wife every day while in Hawaii, but not nearly that often at home. In fact, we spent time making meals together, going for walks, having conversations, going to museums, etc. every day.

Those things were great and spending quality time with my wife made them doubly so. I’ve come to realize that all of those things are available as options at home, but we do them far less often at home than we do on vacation. That struck me as kind of odd. Admittedly, we have the pressures of getting the kids to school and ourselves to work every morning when we’re at home and that kind of makes the sunrise harder to enjoy on a daily basis, but that doesn’t really account for what we do with the rest of our time. Conversations, walks, museum visits, and other activities are all possible at home, but we don’t do them.

There’s lots of reasons for that. Work consumes a great deal of energy daily. Laundry has to get done. The house has to be vacuumed. The snow has to get shoveled. The car needs to be worked on. There are all kinds of demands on our time and energy. In contrast, there are plenty of easy and comfortable ways to use our free time at our disposal at home. In particular, television and the internet are easy ways to relax that require very little of us. The thing is, while I was in Hawaii both television and the internet were available to me, but I spent far less time mindlessly staring at either. I figured that I had a limited time for vacation now, and I needed to use it to the fullest.

Watching TV didn’t fit that bill. Instead, I enjoyed my wife’s company. The tricky part is that I can do that at home every day. After sleeping and work, I have around 72 free hours a week. The average American watches TV or surfs the net for around 5 hours a day. That’s about 35 of our 72 free hours. It would be easy to peel away a few hours daily to enjoy life the way I did while on vacation, though without the beach or the tropical weather.

I think that the main reason we don’t is because of our mindset in approaching our daily schedule. On vacation, I am painfully aware that I only have 7 days to enjoy, so I make the important things a priority. Time-wasters don’t land as high on my list because I don’t want to waste that precious vacation time.

Whereas, at home, it’s easy to view days as trudging to the next day off. It’s easy to see time-wasters as an indulgence we can throw hours at, even though they aren’t as important in the grand scheme of things. I rarely spend an hour of quality time with my family and regret it, yet it’s easy to skip that quality time in favor of time-wasters.

I’d suggest that one approach for correcting this tendency in ourselves is to ask some pointed questions every day in order to keep our eyes set on what’s of highest priority. I’d suggest the following: (1) What am I grateful for today? (2) What is my purpose in life? (3) Have I used my last several hours in a way that reflects 1 and 2? This isn’t difficult to do, but doing it regularly and changing our patterns to reflect what’s most important is strangely difficult to do. I suspect few people would regret the changes though.


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